Horses To Follow » Antinori


Antinori was the one to take out of the Class 2 10-furlong heritage handicap at Sandown on Saturday. Walter Swinburn’s gelding had made all when he won a handicap over the same course and distance on his penultimate start in May, and he raced handily when he finished third at York in June, but it looked like there was going to be a lot of early pace in Saturday’s race, with a couple of confirmed front-runners in the line-up, so the fact that he missed the kick, perhaps intentionally, was not altogether a bad thing. However, some of the other potential front-runners seemed to be mindful of the dangers of a frenetic early pace, and habitual tearaway Australia Day was a scratching, with the result that Frankie Dettori and Fanjura were allowed an easy time of it up front. There is no better man at riding from the front in Europe these days than Dettori, and he dictated the perfect pace for Fanjura. They left him alone until they reached the three-furlong pole, but Dettori had loads up his sleeve, and when he went for Fanjura, the response was impressive, and he surged away again, building up a lead that lasted until the winning line and beyond. It was a fine effort from the winner, no question, but he did have the race run to suit and the handicapper has given him 9lb for it, which is harsh enough. By contrast, he has only given Antinori 5lb for going down by a neck, despite not having the race run to suit. Held up out the back in the early stages, he raced keenly enough, as a few of them did off the sedate pace, he was no better than 10th and smothered up among horses when they turned for home. Short of a little bit of room on the far side as the pace quickened, Adam Kirby moved him towards the outside two furlongs out and he began to pick up. At that point he had about five lengths to find on Fanjura into a quickening pace. Still four lengths down as they passed the furlong pole, he stayed on really well on the outside. It never really looked like he was going to get to Fanjura, who wasn’t stopping in front, and he was probably a little flattered by the winning margin of just a neck, given that Dettori was easy enough on Fanjura inside the last 50 yards, but it was still a huge effort in a race that wasn’t run to suit. He finished really well, he pulled clear of the rest of the field, and he was in front literally two strides after the line.

This was a career-best from the son of Fasliyev. He probably improved for being held up and settled in behind horses, he may have improved for the fitting of cheekpieces for the first time, and he is progressive anyway, competing in just his eighth race. The plan is apparently to go for the Cambridgeshire next, and that is interesting. Although the Cambridgeshire is run over nine furlongs, it is run at such a pace that it is usually dominated by 10-furlong horses stepping down in trip rather than milers stepping up, and last year’s Cambridgeshire winner Tazeez finished fourth in last Saturday’s equivalent race on his penultimate run before he went on to land the Cambridgeshire. Antinori’s new mark of 97 is just right for the Cambridgeshire – the last five winners were rated between 95 and 102 – he handles good to soft ground and good to firm ground, and it is easy to see him running a big race in at Newmarket on 3rd October. Current odds of 16/1 are very fair at this stage.

22nd August 2009